Operational technology (OT) systems, including industrial control systems and IoT devices, are critical assets that power core business operations and drive revenue streams for industrial and critical infrastructure organizations. The nuances in these environments, such as safety considerations, legacy or unmanageable systems with long lifecycles, and proprietary protocols across multiple vendor systems with known product vulnerabilities, make securing and optimizing them increasingly complex.
Operational risk refers to any situation which could cause a loss of view or loss of control to your connected processes and functions, where view and/or control cannot be recovered automatically or remotely from manipulation. An automated OT asset discovery and inventory management platform can provide the visibility, risk management priorities, and data needed to mitigate both operational and cybersecurity risks.
Here are four essential benefits you can achieve with an OT asset inventory management platform:
1. Optimize Crown Jewels to Prioritize Risk Mitigation
Identifying and assessing the vulnerabilities in your OT assets establishes a foundational understanding of their risk levels. An OT asset management platform enables more advanced quantitative risk modeling that not only incorporates fundamental asset information like network connectivity, vulnerabilities and patch status, but also contextual process data, like the functionality and criticality of the asset (Is it a safety system? Controller?), and potential financial losses per hour of downtime if a certain asset is disrupted or damaged.
These insights and more enable measurable risk management metrics based on business impact. To see an example of how this might work in practice, check out Marty the OT Guy’s deep dive on OT asset management here.
2. Monitor the Effectiveness of Security Policies & Network Segmentation
It’s important to validate whether security policies and network segmentation are working during day-to-day operations or scheduled maintenance periods when suppliers and vendors may be accessing the network. The number one reason network segmentation is considered a key and routine best practice is that it helps organizations to build more defensible architectures.
By design, network segmentation divides critical parts of networks from other networks. Operational technology (OT), industrial control systems (ICS), or internet of things (IoT) used for critical business processes should be partitioned into distinct security domains. Asset management solutions can automatically distill network topologies into zones based on criticality, functionality, and more.
An OT asset management platform can then monitor assets and networks for changes, identify known vulnerabilities, and alert on network conditions for compliance. With anomaly detection, alerts are generated for configuration changes, access parameters, and other security policy violations and network traffic abnormalities. Alerts and notifications for non-compliance allow teams to respond quickly and investigate these events more thoroughly, identify accidents and errors immediately, and reduce the dwell time of malicious threats.
3. Maintain Regulatory Compliance
A real-time asset inventory with current vulnerabilities, patch status, and communication data is often required to demonstrate compliance with regulations related to proactive cyber risk management. Many companies are still storing this type of information on spreadsheets, which is an incredibly ineffective, costly process that requires employee or contractor time and travel, and in the end, cannot ensure accuracy.
An OT asset inventory management platform provides a single source of truth for this data that can be queried to generate reports and demonstrate compliance when needed – including the monitoring of vulnerabilities that an organization cannot remediate and must build compensating controls around. Tuning the platform to tag assets based on industry specific compliance frameworks make this reporting process even more efficient.
4. Optimize Operational Resilience
Merging various data streams, including asset maintenance and lifecycle data, cyber risk data, and historical cost data, provides comprehensive business intelligence to optimize operations. A unified data set from an OT asset management platform helps prioritize internal resource allocation, identify urgency for patching or mitigating vulnerabilities in OT devices, and plan for preventative maintenance activities based on real-time criticality and risk assessments.
Finding a solution that delivers the right mix of OT asset visibility, vulnerability management, and risk analytics empowers critical infrastructure and industrial operators with the visibility and control needed to balance productivity, safety, and compliance in their unique environments.
To learn more about the key qualities to look for in an OT asset inventory management platform, check out our Buyer’s Guide to OT Asset Management Solutions below.